Your spine is also known as your backbone, but it includes more than bones. The disks, muscles, tendons, and tissues along your spinal column are also part of your spine. Your spine is part of your central nervous system. Your body relies on your spine for structure, and your spine enables you to move.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is an injury to your spinal column’s nerves, muscles, disks, or bones. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that each year, between one-quarter and half a million people worldwide get SCIs.
Spinal cord injuries are very common after an accident. We specialize in these injuries and cases. Our attorneys understand the medicine and the law and have helped our clients get the full settlement they deserve after an accident involving a spinal cord injury.
What are the common symptoms of a spinal cord injury?
SCI symptoms vary based on the injury’s location and its severity. SCIs may affect your back, head, neck, limbs, or organs. Common symptoms include:
- Balance issues
- Issues with bowel or bladder control
- Fertility issues
- Lack of coordination
- Mass on your spine or head
- Partial loss of control of body parts
- Sexual dysfunction
- Tingling in extremities
- Total loss of control of body parts
What are spinal cord injury categories?
There are two categories of SCIs. Your long-term prognosis varies based on whether your SCI is complete or incomplete. Whether you have a complete or incomplete SCI is determined by the part of your body below the point of injury.
You have an incomplete spinal cord injury if you can feel things and have partial or total control of limbs and organs below your SCI. People with incomplete SCIs usually have shorter recovery periods and a better long-term prognosis. In some cases, it’s possible to make a full recovery.
If you can’t feel anything below your SCI location, you have a complete SCI. Complete SCIs also cause paralysis. Although it’s possible to recover from a complete SCI, the recovery periods are longer. Some complete SCIs are permanent.
What are spinal cord injury levels and types?
Your spine has 33 vertebrae, and the level and type of SCI you experience depends on the part of the spine where the injury occurs. All SCIs can affect your quality of life. In some cases, counseling and support groups can help SCI victims with the impact of their injuries. Others may need long-term personal care to complete routine tasks.
The bottom five vertebrae in your spine are your sacral vertebrae. Since your sacrum and coccyx are the lowest points on your spine, injuries to this part of your spine impact the lower portion of your body. Sacral SCIs can affect your legs and your hips, but you may be able to recover fully with treatment.
Your lumbar vertebrae are the second-lowest part of your spine. Like a sacral SCI, a lumbar SCI will impact your hips and legs. Some people with lumbar SCIs may recover, while others may need assistive devices like braces or a wheelchair.
There are 12 vertebrae in the thoracic section of your spine. SCIs in the thoracic area can vary in nature and severity based on whether they affect the upper or lower thoracic vertebrae. Injuries to any of your thoracic vertebrae can cause trunk and leg paralysis. Injuries to the lower seven vertebrae also affect abdominal and lower back muscles. Injuries to the upper five vertebrae impact your abdomen, chest, and middle back muscles.
When someone suffers a spinal cord injury in the upper part of the spine, their injuries are usually more severe than SCIs in the lowest part of the spine. The extent of the injury’s severity depends on which of the seven cervical vertebrae is affected by your SCI. An injury to the C7 vertebra affects the bottom cervical vertebrae and can cause hand, leg, and trunk paralysis, although the hand paralysis may be partial.
Those with injuries to their C5 or C6 vertebrae will have the same issues as those with C7 SCIs but can also have wrist paralysis. People with C5 or C6 SCIs may also have breathing issues.
The most severe injuries are injuries to the C1, C2, C3, or C4 vertebrae. People with these SCIs may need an assistive device to breathe. In addition to the symptoms experienced by those with C5 and C6 SCIs, they may also have arm paralysis and difficulty speaking.
Why are SCIs so serious?
Spinal cord damage can impact your ability to function fully. In some cases, SCIs are permanent. Surgery may effectively correct damage in other cases, but surgery isn’t without risks. Surgical complications caused more than 4% of SCIs between 2005 and 2011. In addition to causing SCIs, there’s also a possibility spinal surgery can increase the severity of an SCI. Since severe SCIs can interfere with the person’s ability to breathe, people with SCIs also have a higher risk of premature death.
What types of accidents can result in an SCI?
Accidents are the leading cause of SCIs and can happen in many ways. The most common of these include:
- Car accidents: Motor vehicle accidents accounted for 31.5% of SCIs between 2005 and 2011, while motorcycle accidents accounted for another 6.8% of SCIs during that period.
- Diving accidents: Diving is a popular recreational activity but isn’t without risks. Divers may hit their heads if they miscalculate the depth of the water, resulting in an SCI.
- Pedestrian accidents: A pedestrian is more likely to suffer a catastrophic injury after an accident because they’re exposed to direct impact from motor vehicles.
- Slip-and-fall accidents: Falls caused more than 25% of SCIs between 2005 and 2011. People have a higher risk of suffering a fall as they age, adding to the number of SCIs. People can also fall on slippery surfaces, unsecured items like rugs, or trip on uneven stairs or objects on the ground.
Are there other causes of SCIs?
Although accidents are the most common causes of SCIs, there are several other ways people can get an SCI. These causes include:
- Gunshots: Gunshots caused over 10% of the SCIs recorded between 2005 and 2011.
- Medical malpractice: When a medical professional or facility fails to provide the reasonably expected standard of care, patients may become victims of medical malpractice. Substandard care can result in SCIs and other injuries.
- Sports injuries: Participating in sports can cause various injuries. Players can collide when playing football or hockey, resulting in SCIs. Bicyclists can also sustain SCIs if they’re thrown from their bikes or fall when riding.
- Violent assaults: Any physical impact on your spine can cause an SCI. Beating and stabbing victims can suffer from an SCI after an assault.
How can you cope with the financial repercussions of an SCI?
Coping with an SCI can be overwhelming. You may have to learn how to use assistive devices to move around. You may also need help if you cannot stand to reach the items you need. In addition to needing special equipment, such as wheelchairs, you may need to move or renovate your home. You may also need to hire people to provide personal care or child care.
Many SCI victims struggle to cover personal care expenses and the costs of ongoing medical care. Fortunately, SCI victims can file a personal injury suit and seek compensation. Suppose you were in a car accident, resulting in your SCI. You could pursue legal action for economic and non-economic damages if another driver were at fault.
Economic damages include:
- Child care costs
- Future lost wages
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Personal care costs
- Renovation or relocation costs
- Replacement costs
- Transportation costs
Non-economic damages include:
- Emotional injury
- Pain and suffering
- Social impact
You may even have a case for punitive damages if you can establish that the driver’s reckless or malicious conduct caused the accident. Although it’s possible for you to pursue a legal claim yourself, hiring a personal injury lawyer ensures you have expert legal guidance every step of the way. Personal injury attorneys have years of training and experience. They are familiar with laws surrounding personal injury cases and know how to build the most effective spinal cord injury case.
Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
Find answers to your spinal cord injury frequently asked questions from our Utah personal injury lawyers:
- What is Spinal Cord Injury?
- What are the major causes of SCI?
- Can a person with SCI still continue to work?
- What about women with SCI? Can they still bear children?
- Can a person with SCI still engage in sports?
- Can a person with SCI still get a degree?
- What recovery is expected following spinal cord injury?
- Do people with SCI ever get better?
- How do people with SCI pass water and manage bowels?
- What long-term medical follow-up is needed for a spinal cord injury?
- What is meant by the word paralysis?
- Are all spinal cord injuries a result of a fall and vehicular accidents?
- My husband has a spinal cord injury. Can he still become a parent?
- Can a person with SCI still travel?
- Can a person with SCI still drive?
- Can a person with SCI live to old age?
- What is the difference between paraplegia and tetraplegia?
- Is there a cure for SCI?
- Will a person with SCI ever walk again?
- What Good Guys Injury Law Can Do for My Spinal Cord Injury Case?
- Get Help From Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Near You
- Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Can Help You Rebuild Your Life
- Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Attorneys Are Here to Help
A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. It may be partial or complete, causing complete or limited loss of mobility and sensation.
Paralysis refers to the inability to control movement or to detect sensations such as touch and temperature. The victim may lose muscle strength or control in the body with varying levels of severity.
The major causes of SCI damage are trauma, including falls, car accidents, assault and battery, sporting accidents, or disease. Sudden force to the spinal cord may result in a severing of the spinal cord and the inability of the brain to communicate signals throughout the body.
Spinal cord injuries are different from other kinds of back injuries. Back injuries may include ruptured disks, spinal stenosis, or pinched nerves. A person can break their back or neck without a spinal cord injury if only the bones are damaged.
No, not all spinal cord injuries are the result of a fall or a vehicular accident. While those are the most common causes, some spinal cord injuries result from diseases, assault, and sporting accidents.
Yes, a person with SCI may still continue to work. Job accommodations such as modifications in equipment, procedures, duties, or hours can be made. Federal and state laws may assist a person with SCI to seek reasonable accommodation to continue to work.
Problems with reproductive function are common in men with spinal cord injuries. However, assisted reproduction technologies have enabled many men to father biological children despite spinal cord injuries. Adoption is another option.
Yes, many women with SCI can bear children. Fertility in women is usually completely normal within a few months of the initial injury. The ability to bear children may vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury.
Yes, a person with SCI can travel. Tourist destinations and hotels are now accessible to people in wheelchairs. Air carriers and buses also accommodate people with disabilities.
Yes, a person with SCI can still engage in sports. Sports, like many other activities, can be adapted for people with disabilities. Examples are downhill skiing on a mono-ski, wheelchair basketball, and even sailing a boat with sip-and-puff control.
Yes, depending on the nature of the injury, a person with SCI can still drive a motor vehicle. Modified vehicles are made available and can be driven using hand controls. There are also gadgets to help you grip the steering wheel or start the ignition. A van modified with an automatic ramp or lift enables one to drive without even getting out of the wheelchair.
Yes, a person with SCI can earn an advanced degree. Campuses are now made accessible for people with disabilities. Scholarships are also available.
Yes, a person with SCI may live to old age. Medical advancements have been helping to improve the life expectancy of people with SCI. By taking care of themselves through medication, healthy diet, exercise, and strong social and familial support, a person with SCI may live longer.
The extent of recovery is impossible to predict. It depends on the nature of the injury, the treatment that the victim receives, and how carefully they follow their treatment plan. Some people with incomplete injuries may recover no function, some function, or all function.
The difference between paraplegia and tetraplegia is the location and nature of the loss of sensation and control. Paraplegia can be generalized as losing control of movement and sensation from the waist down; the term tetraplegia includes loss of function in the upper body, arms, and hands.
A person with SCI may see significant improvement. At the time of injury, the spinal cord swells. When the swelling goes down, some functioning may return as late as 18 months after. However, only a very small fraction of people with SCI get better by recovering all functioning.
Most body parts and organs can repair themselves after they are injured, but the central nervous system cannot. Therefore, there is no known cure for SCI. The damage caused by an SCI can be reduced by limiting immediate cell death and reducing the inflammation of the injured cord.
People with SCI may pass water and manage bowels with the help of devices. Appropriate continence aids and techniques should enable people to re-establish a degree of control over both bladder and bowels and enable them to lead a normal life.
A person with SCI may or may not ever walk again. Depending on the level of injury and degree of completeness, mobility may be regained in the lower body with the presence of some sensation and movement.
People with spinal cord injuries need periodic assessments to ensure organ function and quality of life. People with SCI need annual urological assessments to make sure the kidneys and bladder remain healthy. Urinary tract infection and skin sores must be managed.
The Good Guys Injury Law can pursue your claim, create a personalized strategy to maximize your compensation, and put our skills to work to make the legal system manageable. Our Utah spinal cord injury lawyer can assist you with all of the following:
- Determining if you have a case
- Evaluating communications and offers from the insurance company
- Speaking with the insurance company on your behalf and negotiating a settlement
- Investigating which parties may be responsible for damages
- Gathering the evidence to prove legal liability
- Working with experts to determine long-term needs and the true value of the case
- Ensuring that no type of compensation is missed
- Presenting your case and arguing at court hearings
- Drafting and presenting court documents
- Assisting with financial planning and collection of judgment
The Good Guys Injury Law spinal cord experts can take the lead in every step that needs to be taken in your case. We work for you and with you to go from where you are now to the recovery you deserve. Along the way, we offer open-door communication and a friendly, compassionate approach so that you can have confidence and satisfaction in our legal services throughout your case.
The severity of a spinal cord injury can impact every area of your life. You may need help with medical bills for years to come. Valuing the cost of your medical care going forward is crucial to ensuring you have the resources you need. There’s also a good chance that your work and career path have changed because of your injuries. Ensuring that you and your family are financially taken care of is a critical part of the legal process.
Our lawyers know the complex issues present in your case. We know how to move your case through the legal system while building the evidence in your favor. Don’t be frustrated by the insurance companies and the legal red tape. Let an experienced team of professionals guide you through the process so that you can focus on your recovery and rebuild your life.
Few injuries are as serious and life-altering as spinal cord injuries. Regardless of the cause, trauma to the spine can take months or years of expensive rehabilitation and recovery. Even then, sometimes, the damage is irreversible. If you or a loved one has suffered spinal cord injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you may need the help of a skilled spinal cord injury attorney.
Our Utah spinal cord injury attorneys are ready to help you rebuild your life. The effects of a spinal cord injury can be devastating for victims and their families. Let our team of accident attorneys help you adjust to your new life by seeking justice through fair compensation.
When recovering from a spinal cord injury, you need support for medical needs and lost income. You also deserve recognition for the pain and suffering you have endured in the form of a monetary award. Our attorneys for spinal cord injuries in Utah are prepared to help you bring your claim and pursue your legal rights.
At Good Guys Injury Lawl, we understand the pain and frustration that you are going through. We can help. Our team can handle your case from start to finish. We will fight to get you the compensation you need to find hope and healing after your accident.
Each of our attorneys know the laws relating to Utah personal injury, particularly spinal cord injuries. While we can’t undo the harm, we can provide your family with security and comfort by obtaining compensation for your loss. Know that you can seek compensation to help cover your current and future medical bills as well as your pain and suffering, lost quality of life, lost earning capacity, and more.
At Good Guys Injury Law, we have extensive experience representing spinal cord injury victims. As a law firm built exclusively to help personal injury victims and their families, our spinal cord injury attorneys have the experience to get results. Our spinal cord injury lawyers will negotiate with the insurance companies for you and take your case as far as you need to go, so you can focus on rebuilding your life. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, request a free consultation or call us at 801-506-0800 to discuss your legal rights.
Chen, Y., et al. (2013). Causes of Spinal Cord Injury.
Hirsch, L. (2022). Central Nervous System: The Brain and Spinal Cord.
Spinal Cord Injury. (2013).
Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Attorneys Are Here to Help
Attorneys Kenneth L. Christensen and D. Russell Hymas know the laws relating to Utah personal injury, and in particular, spinal cord injuries. While we can’t undo the harm, we can provide your family with a sense of security and comfort by obtaining compensation for your loss. Know that you can seek compensation to help cover your current and future medical bills as well as your pain and suffering, lost quality of life, lost earning capacity, and more.
At Good Guys Injury Law, we have extensive experience representing victims of spinal cord injuries. As a law firm built exclusively to help personal injury victims and their families, we care, and we have the experience to get results. Our attorneys will negotiate with the insurance companies for you and take your case as far as you need to go, so you can focus on rebuilding your life. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, call us at 801-506-0800 to set up a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
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